Losing the Horse

        

Mr Zardari will not get a second chance. His past and present unpopularity make him an easy target. To make matters worse Washington is disillusioned. With him at the helm they felt they could ‘drone on’ without too much of an outcry. Now they know they can’t.
Mr. Zardari had no option but to agree to the restoration of the judges. Or, to be entirely accurate, he did have an option. He could have refused to restore the CJ and then jumped from the second floor of the Presidency when the 111 Brigade or the demonstrators came for him.
 Any fool knows that. So why are his minions trying to pass it off as an example of his statesmanship? Would it not be better to admit that Mr Zardari erred and inject a sliver of candour in the tissue of lies that has marked the government’s stance?
 Why did Mr Zardari wait till matters reached a pass that only abject surrender could bail him out? There are only two explanations: bad judgement or bad advice. If, the former, Mr Zardari is beyond redemption (in a democracy there is no room for on-the-job training); if the latter, heads should roll.
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ZARDARI WILL NOT GET A SECOND CHANCE

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by Zafar Hilali

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Mr Zardariwill not get a second chance. His past and present unpopularity make him an easy target. To make matters worse Washington is disillusioned. With him at the helm they felt they could ‘drone on’ without too much of an outcry. Now they know they can’t.

Mr. Zardari had no option but to agree to the restoration of the judges. Or, to be entirely accurate, he did have an option. He could have refused to restore the CJ and then jumped from the second floor of the Presidency when the 111 Brigade or the demonstrators came for him.

 Any fool knows that. So why are his minions trying to pass it off as an example of his statesmanship? Would it not be better to admit that Mr Zardari erred and inject a sliver of candour in the tissue of lies that has marked the government’s stance?

 Why did Mr Zardari wait till matters reached a pass that only abject surrender could bail him out? There are only two explanations: bad judgement or bad advice. If, the former, Mr Zardari is beyond redemption (in a democracy there is no room for on-the-job training); if the latter, heads should roll.

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 Ayub Khan in a similar situation in 1965 acted decisively. He sacked ZAB, Aziz Ahmed and Nazir Ahmed, perhaps his closest advisers, for advising him that “Operation Gibraltar” in Kashmir would not lead to war with India.

 Of course, Mr. Zardari will do no such thing. He is street-smart but not wise. Besides, he prefers to be known as dost ka dost; that counts for more with him and his flock than being termed mulk ka dushman by some hack. But that is how he will be remembered if he continues to heed the counsel of his politically illiterate advisers or backs his own uninformed hunches.

 Today, Mr. Zardari is a political pariah, even more so than Musharraf on the morning of November 3, 2007. Nothing but boorishness was expected from a soldier; much greater were the expectations from the husband of Pakistan’s foremost democrat who should have learnt his politics at her feet. Were an election to be held today Mr. Zardari would be unelectable, such is the infamy he has earned.

 Instead of turning a crisis he inherited into an opportunity to win public acclaim, he traded it for a disaster. In sum, his performance on the judges’ issue has been one of mind-boggling ineptitude.

Some believe that nevertheless his hold on the PPP is vice-like because the PPP is a Bhutto malkiyat and Mr. Zardari commands it on behalf of Bilawal. Not so. Mr. Zardari is an accidental President and he is not a Bhutto.

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 You don’t become a Bhutto by marrying one. The suffix ‘Bhutto’ tagged on to a name is not enough. Bilawal will discover this. To be a Bhutto you must act like one, think like one, and believe like one. Anyway, even a Bhutto has to win his spurs. Zulfikar did so by wiping the floor off his opponents in a fair election in 1971 and going to the scaffold bravely; Benazir did it by returning in 1986 and 2007 and staking her life on the restoration of democracy; in Mr. Zardari’s case, far from winning his spurs, he has lost his horse.

Mr. Zardari will not get a second chance. His past and present unpopularity make him an easy target. To make matters worse Washington is disillusioned. With him at the helm they felt they could ‘drone on’ without too much of an outcry. At least that is what Ambassador Haqqani assured them.

 Now they know they can’t. Their political cover has been blown. They have had to fall back for support on their old ally, the fauj which may wish to oblige but cannot with the same abandon it once did. The concept of Long Marches has changed all that. Wisely though Washington is now hedging its bets.

 Mr. Nawaz Sherif now bestrides the political stage like a colossus. The richest and most privileged man ever to champion the cause of the poor and underprivileged; who owns more land in London than most of his better off supporters do in the pauperised villages of Pakistan

. Sitting on his gold (leaf) encrusted sofa in Lahore, beside crystal vases filled with mellifluous flowers of all hues, with walls and floors reflecting the opulence and bad taste of a successful business buccaneer, he waxes on about the prospects of an impending revolution that will banish poverty and bring justice to the door step of the impoverished with no idea how incongruous is the setting or how outlandish he sounds.

 Surely he should at least look the part he claims to play. It may have cost a lot to keep Gandhi in poverty, as Sarajoni Naidu said, but it was worth it.

 Mr. Sharif’s panaceas for our problems are not novel: to reason with the extremists but, if they remain unreasonable, to seek the shelter of a verbose and diffuse Parliamentary Resolution; to espouse the tolerant, progressive Islam of Jinnah but when confronted by the opposition of bigots to take a time out, or pass the buck or better still keep mum; to support the American alliance but if politically inexpedient to guard his silence; to befriend the Government and at the same time to distance himself from them; to detach Mr. Gilani from Mr. Zardari but when confronted to deny any such motive; to defend the Supreme Court and, when necessary, attack it, etc, etc. The contradictions are profuse.

 When the Long (Container) March ended, and the CJ was restored and the time came to take stock what emerged was what we all knew, which is that the military remains the dominant force in Pakistani politics and that our politicians are as fork-tongued and as incompetent as any soldier when it comes to keeping promises or running the country.

Sadly, nothing has changed. Pakistan remains in a free fall mode. The only question is whether when Pakistan hits the ground we will be merely battered and bruised, or dead. Take your pick.

Zafar Hilaly is a Pakistani political analyst and diplomat who has previously served as an ambassador to YemenNigeria and Italy.
Source
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  1. […] This cup of tea was served by: Wonders of Pakistan […]

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